Saturday, July 28, 2012

The breakdown of automatic systems...

Dysautonomia is a breakdown of the autonomic nervous system. But I think of the term also in reference to the breakdown of autonomous systems generally – life systems including those related to power, water, and food are also vulnerable to breakdown.

What if we consider travel to Mars as a metaphor for neurologic dysfunction? In both scenarios simple everyday tasks become difficult, and one must be prepared for unexpected and imminent disaster. Physical movements become slow and heavy. You are subject to vertigo, nausea, disorientation, and psychologic stress. In short: your world closes down around you. The people in your immediate circle become key to your survival. You may never return to the life you knew.

The below image was taken during "a five-day odyssey in the Alps designed to mimic potential future missions on Mars" which took place in "the largest ice caves on Earth, spacesuits and remote-controlled planetary rovers were for the first time tested". In this recent experiment researchers attempted to create the conditions future explorers will encounter on Mars – the weight, immobility, and other physical factors were artificially introduced, as well as in the below scenario a breakdown in communications. I love this image because one immediately recognizes how difficult physical movement is, and how isolated one would be sensorially.– Link to story

I also love the images from this experiment because they remind me of a story from J.G. Ballard from his book "Memories of the Space Age", where a man believes he is on Mars, but is actually in a recreation of Mars on earth in a development called Jupiter Cove. He is of course out of his mind. As one would surely be on the real Mars.

Photo credit: OEWF (Katja Zanella-Kux)

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